The Professional Fighters League is seeking sovereign wealth fund investments, according to the mixed martial arts league’s founder and chairman Donn Davis.
(Bloomberg) — The Professional Fighters League is seeking sovereign wealth fund investments, according to the mixed martial arts league’s founder and chairman Donn Davis.
“We are a global league and a global sport. Would we like to have investors from outside of the United States? Yes,” Davis said in an interview. “Would that be a good thing for our company? Yes.”
Combat sports such as mixed martial arts are on the radar of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, according to a person close to the fund who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. A spokesperson for PIF didn’t immediately provide a comment.
Such an investment would follow other professional sports teams’ willingness to tap into Persian Gulf state funds. Sovereign-backed investment firms or their subsidiaries now own five European football clubs, including Manchester City, whose owners have transformed into City Football Group.
In June, PGA Tour Holdings Inc. merged with LIV Golf Ltd. LIV is backed by PIF. Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund then bought a 5% stake of the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards in a purchase that valued the team at $4.05 billion.
The Professional Fighters League held its first event in 2018, making it a relatively new combat sports upstart. It runs a regular season and single elimination playoff format. Champions of each weight class earn $1 million.
PFL’s current list of investors include former Yankee Alex Rodriguez and Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine. Ted Leonsis, who owns the Wizards, the Washington Mystics of the Women’s National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals is also an investor, as are actor Kevin Hart and rapper Wiz Khalifa.
A funding round last summer valued the league at about $500 million.
In May, the PFL signed heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou after he turned down a contract renewal from more established combat league Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“It’s as if Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow left the NFL,” said Davis. “I think that it said two things to the world. Number one, if you’re a fighter explore your options. And number two, if you’re a fan you better check this new league out.”
–With assistance from David Hellier.
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